TWO West Dunbartonshire Council employees were left with severe injuries – including a spinal fracture – after the council failed to comply with health and safety regulations.

The local authority has received an £8,000 fine after the two workers were thrown from a vehicle that didn’t have seatbelts, roll-over protection or a risk assessment carried out.

At Dumbarton Sheriff Court on Wednesday, the council pleaded guilty to two health and safety breaches following the accident at Dalmuir Golf Course in July 2018.

Procurator fiscal depute Sandra Craig told the court that Donald McCandless, 62, and Alan McGrath, 39, were collecting flags on a John Deere 6x4 vehicle when the incident occurred.

She said: “The vehicle didn’t have any seatbelts, roll-over protection or roof. Both employees working at the golf course had been for many years.

“No risk assessment had been done in relation to this vehicle.

“When they got to a corner, the driver, Mr McCandless, felt the vehicle slipping back.

“It slipped and overturned several times and both witnesses were thrown from the vehicle.”

Mr McCandless was left with a spinal fracture and was in hospital for 10 days as a result of the vehicle landing on top of him.

Meanwhile, the passenger, Mr McGrath, suffered numerous injuries including a broken leg, torn ligaments, a rib injury, and a 10cm laceration to his left leg during the accident on July 20, 2018.

The council’s solicitor said both men are back at work full time despite their injuries.

Fiscal depute Craig told the court: “It appears there had been no steps taken by the council to install seatbelts or protection.

“In terms of managing health and safety, employers must make suitable assessments. The council failed to do that here.”

The council’s solicitor said that WDC had two other similar vehicles at the golf course – both of which had roll-over protection and seatbelts.

When Sheriff William Gallacher asked why the one in which the accident occurred didn’t, the solicitor said it was “because of the age of the vehicle”.

He added: “The council accepted this should have been in place, the council was quick to accept full responsibility and has, of course, pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.”

Sheriff Gallacher said: “This causes me some difficulty – this is not a profit-making organisation and funds have an impact on public services.

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“Any penalty will come from the local authority – I respect that, but this could have been prevented by a risk assessment if someone had put their mind to it.”

The council was charged £3,000 for having no roll-over protection system and no seatbelts fitted, and £5,000 for failing to assess the risk posed by the same vehicle.

A spokeswoman for WDC said: “We are committed to the health and safety of all of our employees and are sorry this incident occurred.

"Lessons have been learned and a number of measures have been put in place including providing additional training and enhancing vehicles to ensure the safety of our employees. We have also fully complied with the Health and Safety Executive recommendations.”